Rough Weather No Challenge For These Two Bluewaters
We thought we'd share with you all stories from some of our existing owners who are enjoying their Bluewater yachts. Here are two short stories firstly, from Michael & Pip Kalajzich on a trip on Renaissance, and Peter & Virginia Lewis, provide an update on their latest racing achievements on Charlie's Dream.
The Cruise to Laurieton That Didn't Happen
On the October long weekend Michael and I had planned to sail Renaissance with about 20 other boats from the Coastal Cruising Club (CCCA) to Laurieton, arriving no later than Friday 8th October.
Even in Sydney Harbour, when we departed our mooring, the weather was dreadful. We'd loaded a week's worth of food onto the boat and got as far as Vaucluse on Saturday night. At least we were dry, and as soon as we picked up a mooring we zipped up all the clears and watched the rain.
More of the same weather-wise the following morning as we listened to the gloomy forecast of more rain and building seas. At least we could get to Pittwater. So we set off, and, while we'd been in worse, it certainly wasn't very nice once we were outside the Heads. We motor-sailed and arrived in Pittwater early afternoon. Some of our friends from the CCCA were at Coasters Retreat so we joined them for happy hour and discussed the weather and the stages of the planned trip to Laurieton.
On Monday we enjoyed a barbecue ashore – fighting off hungry kookaburras – and had a quiet night as we planned an early start. We reluctantly got out of our comfy new bed at 5 am to check the weather. It was not good with an easterly swell building which would make the bar at Laurieton dangerous. We went back to bed.
On Wednesday we went to the CCCA Old Salts lunch at The Royal Motor Yacht Club where the new dodger got a lot of attention from other members. Quite a few had decided to abandon the trip to Laurieton by boat and travel up there by car instead. Others, like ourselves, decided to spend a few days in Pittwater and on the Hawkesbury. On Thursday we went around to Refuge Bay and met up with more CCCA members. We had happy hour on Renaissance and stayed warm with the clears zipped up, then were invited onto another boat for a curry dinner.
Friday was a relaxing day. We read and re-arranged the lockers and looked for things that David had hidden during the Boat Show. On Saturday we went back to Coasters Retreat where we met up with more friends from CCCA who joined us for dinner aboard Renaissance, with pre dinner drinks and nibbles in our new outdoor saloon while dinner cooked – roast lamb and vegies contributed by our guests because by now we had almost eaten all the food we'd loaded onto the boat before setting off.
We learned that the bar at Laurieton was indeed dangerous and only a few members of the CCCA had actually travelled there by boat. Most went by car, staying in cabins in a caravan park for the weekend, and participated in a number of club activities.
We sailed back to Sydney Harbour on Monday 11th October. The seas were still rough with a 2-3 metre easterly swell and breaking seas on top. As we were about to round Barrenjoey we were hit with a 30+ knot squall that lasted for about 1 hour. We were very glad for the new dodger! Pip was able to hang on to the overhead grab rails - boy were we glad we'd put these in! The wind was in the right direction (north-easterly) and it was a fast trip.
We couldn't have chosen a wetter week to spend on the boat but we managed to stay dry and comfortable and had a very social time. There's no doubt we were the envy of all our friends with our 'enclosed verandah'.
"Charlie's Dream" Update
Hamilton Island Race Week
The regatta provided great sailing around the beautiful Whitsunday Islands. At times a strong tidal set and variable light winds made for challenging race navigation. Our best results came with stronger winds. Overall Charlie’s Dream managed a 2nd place among the 20 yachts competing in Cruising Division 3.
Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race
This was a tough race with 7 of the 17 competing yachts retiring back to the mainland.
Winds were predominantly from NE and essentially for the whole race were 25 to 35knots with occasional gusty periods of 40 knots. Seas varied from 3 to 7 metres. Seasickness took its toll on our crew, as it did for many of the boats. Only 2 of us (out of a crew of 8) were completely free of the dreaded mal de mer. After 2 days we had the following situation: 3 severely incapacitated crew, Lord Howe directly to windward, immediate forecast unchanged and a new deep low developing to the SW of us. The decision was thus made to retire from racing and use the motor to assist in getting to Lord Howe Island. This allowed us to arrive in time for the presentations and crew return flights.
The final bit of excitement for the trip was surfing in to the lagoon via Nth Passage. The yacht handled the adverse conditions well with several of the crew commented that they would rather be on Charlie’s Dream than any other yacht under the prevailing conditions. Although at times we were airborne the only damage suffered was a spreader light that popped out. The return trip a few days later was made in near perfect sailing conditions and so we took the opportunity of visiting Middleton Reef, 120nm north of Lord Howe Island. The numerous exposed ship wrecks were a reminder that when ships and rocks meet it is the ships that lose out big time.
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
This was the 3rd Sydney Hobart for Charlie’s Dream and the hardest. The media reported the conditions as “classic Sydney Hobart” and the toughest since 2004. Of the 102 boats accepted to enter the race only 87 made it to the start line and of these 18 subsequently had to retire. On the first afternoon we had a great spinnaker run before meeting a long “roll cloud” with associated front bringing winds of 35 knots on the nose.
For the next 24 hrs we tacked repeatedly crossing paths with numerous boats at night visible only by their navigation lights. Rarely did radar pick up any of the boats. The wind remained at 25-30 knots overnight with seas building to 3-5 metres. Sea sickness affected several crew despite taking the latest and greatest oral anti-nausea medication available. We were becalmed just before entering Bass Strait and so took the opportunity for all the crew to have a gourmet lunch together with some fine wine. We were in fact moving backwards at this stage. The northerly change then came in to give us a pleasant spinnaker run with a top speed of 12.1 knots observed. We made the call to drop the spinnaker as the wind built but alas we were 20 seconds too late and it split across the top and all the way down one side. That’s racing!
The northerlies continued to build with wind speeds of 30 to 50 knots (top gust seen 53kn). On the 30th we were east of Tasmania when we received a satellite phone call from AMSAR to be on the lookout for Wild Oats (returning after winning the race) that had an activated distress beacon. It proved to be an accidental activation. At Tasman Island we noted that several yachts were parked close to the south shore and so went wide so as to avoid the calm. Unfortunately the wind shifted and resulted in us being becalmed and then passed by 3 yachts that sailed in close. It was a great feeling however to then pass one of these in the Derwent and beat them by 3 minutes. As usual the reception on arrival at Hobart was fantastic and one could not help but feel emotional that the race was over. Our race time was 5 days, 3hrs and 39 minutes and so we made it for New Year’s Eve!